Danica Patrick is first woman to take Daytona 500 pole

Danica Patrick , with crew chief Tony Gibson, became the first woman to take the Daytona 500 pole. Getty
Danica Patrick , with crew chief Tony Gibson, became the first woman to take the Daytona 500 pole. Getty
Posted: February 18, 2013

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Danica Patrick has made history before - as a woman and a racer, in Indianapolis and Japan.

The spotlight is nothing new. But never has it been this bright before.

Patrick won the Daytona 500 pole Sunday, becoming the first woman to secure the top spot for any race in NASCAR's premier circuit. It's by far the biggest achievement of her stock-car career.

"I was brought up to be the fastest driver, not the fastest girl," said Patrick, who became the only woman to win an IndyCar race when she did it in Japan in 2008, and was the first woman to lead laps in the Indianapolis 500.

"I also feel like I've been lucky in my career to be with good teams and have good people around me," she said. "I don't think any of it would have been possible without that."

Her latest first came with a lap at 196.434 m.p.h. around Daytona International Speedway. Patrick went out eighth in the qualifying session, then had to wait about two hours as 37 fellow drivers tried to take her spot.

Only four-time Sprint Cup champion Jeff Gordon even came close to knocking her off. Gordon was the only other driver who topped 196 m.p.h. in qualifying. He locked up the other guaranteed spot in next week's season-opening Daytona 500.

The rest of the field will be set in duel qualifying races Thursday.

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